You walk in. Your song is playing (if your song happens to be by Tone Loc or OK Go). The Eagle Rock Manifesto is chilled and ready for a pour. There are coasters everywhere. Typical bar scene, yes? Well, not this time. The coasters happen to be painted over by some of the best artists working today and the bartender is actually Matt Kennedy, gallery director for La Luz de Jesus art gallery in Hollywood.
It’s the second annual Coaster Show at La Luz de Jesus, and Kennedy says he can’t believe the artists who agreed to participate in this year’s show. People whose work generally sells for upwards of $5,000 have pieces on offer for $250. Prices for the four-inch works go for as little as free for a neon-etched design (already “sold”) up to $250 for works by better-known artists.
The Coaster Show is something of a kick off event for L.A. Beer Week, which officially starts on September 20th. “Here’s the true-story, VH1 Behind the Music look at how the event started,” says Kennedy. La Luz de Jesus had planned on showing the work of a major artist last September. Shortly before the works were to arrive in the gallery, the artist pulled out of the show. And Kennedy says that’s when a friend affiliated with L.A. Beer Week stopped in. “And the idea just hit me. Let’s do a coaster art show!”
The event was such a success that the show is back for 2014 with even more works than last year. An oil painting of Donald Sutherland gazes balefully onto the event from a coaster canvass on the east wall of the gallery. A series of infamous dictators done up as cats (Kit Jong-Il, Adolph Kitler) survey the show with bloodthirsty, feline smiles. Several spherical Mickey Mouse heads (which I assume contain coasters within) hang from the ceiling.
Kennedy says they’ll put on the Coaster Show for at least another five years. He says a highlight of the show for him is that it attracts not just the usual gallery crowd, but craft brew lovers as well. People who may not generally find themselves in the fine art world. Which is one of the appeals of the great neighborhood bar, right? Bringing all kinds together over a cold glass of deliciousness… and some coaster doodles.
The Coaster Show runs until September 28.
La Luz de Jesus, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood